Tabatha Coffey helped Sweet Dixie Kitchen owner Kim Sanchez totally change her way of looking at running a restaurant with her family during Friday's episode of Relative Success with Tabatha. At the end of the episode, we learned that the Long Beach, California eatery was doing better than ever with Kim making table service a permanent fixture and allowing her kids, Nick and Coco, to take on more responsibility.
But Sweet Dixie Kitchen grabbed headlines last fall months after Tabatha lent her help to the restaurant. And we didn't see this coming at all.
It was revealed by a user on Yelp in October 2017 that Sweet Dixie Kitchen had been serving fried chicken from Popeyes in its Pop's Chicken and Waffles dish. Kim explained during an interview with ABC7 that she sampled several other chicken options from restaurant vendors to add to the menu, and Popeyes was the best. "My kitchen is not set up for frying," she said. "We're in an old building. I don't actually have a proper kitchen back there."
Kim defended the decision during the interview while fighting back tears. "We didn't do anything wrong," she told ABC7. "I did something I thought was the best product I could bring in anywhere, anywhere."
Kim told Good Morning America in a separate interview that she loves Popeyes chicken, and "it's the best I've ever had." She also said that she never tried to hide the fact that the restaurant wasn't serving chicken made on the premises. "No, honey, I carried it through the front door," she said.
Tabatha told Bravotv.com prior to Friday's episode airing that she was shocked to hear that this had been going on at Sweet Dixie Kitchen. "So I found out through social media like everyone else what was going on at Sweet Dixie Kitchen. I had no idea, so I read the articles, and at first I just thought, 'This is crazy. This is not true,'" she said (clip above). "I just think it's so disappointing that she went that route. It's sad to me, and it obviously tells me that she didn't take the time that we were together really on board and look at the changes that she needed to make to really make her business successful, and that's sad."
Though Sweet Dixie Kitchen received some poor reviews on Yelp in the wake of this controversy, the restaurant continued to have a sense of humor about the situation, selling shirts with "#popeyesgate" written on them.
Sweet Dixie Kitchen is still serving up biscuits and other comfort food, although the Pop's Chicken and Waffles no longer appears to be on the menu, according to the restaurant's website. Tabatha offered up some advice to Kim and her family on how Sweet Dixie Kitchen can come back from this bad press. "First of all, realize that you have this great niche business, and go back to that feeling of pride you had for the food that you cooked and served people because that seemed to really mean something to Kim. And the second piece of advice I would have is own it, get over it, move forward, and make amends," she told Bravotv.com. "And I think that will be the hard thing for Kim. She has a hard time letting things go. She wants to keep going backward and forwards and tit for tat with her customers and her family and everyone in the business. Kim, let it go! Move on."
Look back on the progress Sweet Dixie Kitchen made on Relative Success, below.